New Canadian Immigration Rules Aimed at Minimising Marriage Fraud
The Canadian Minister of Immigration, Jason Kenney, has recently announced new measures which are being taken by the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to reduce the current levels of sham marriages taking place in the country. The measures came into force on 25 October 2012 and mean that anyone in a relationship of less than two years standing and in which there are no children of the union will need to live in a legitimate relationship for two years after the Canadian marriage visa is granted. This ‘provisional’ visa does not differ in any substantial way from the permanent one, except that if the marriage is dissolved within the two years, the immigration visa will be rescinded.
Before this measure was brought in, Canada was perceived as a ‘soft target’ for those seeking to enter the country as part of a fraudulent marriage arrangement. Australia, the United States and the UK have all tightened up their rules on granting partner visas, requiring proof that the couple involved are in a durable and subsisting relationship and therefore more and more people were targeting Canada as a way out of their countries of birth. Jason Kenney explained the reason for the change in his announcement, and clarified that he feels that often the other partner in the marriage fraud is not complicit, but an unwitting dupe, although it is also sometimes a commercial transaction. All Canadian marriage visa applications received after 25 October 2012 will be subject to these new rules.
There are exceptions, however, and anyone who is in receipt of a provisional marriage visa should be aware that in cases of domestic violence, leeway will be applied, although of course it will not be enough simply to claim abuse, it must be proven to the satisfaction of the Canadian immigration authorities. This will not be limited to abuse by the spouse, but also by family members or people from whom the injured party could reasonably assume they would be protected. If the marriage breaks down, the sponsored spouse will be prohibited from sponsoring another person for entry on a Canadian spouse or partner visa for another five years. These measures taken together should prevent most of the marriage fraud. Palwinder Singh Gill, who is the founder of the Canadian Marriage Fraud Victims’ Society welcomed the measures. ‘Canada’s generous family sponsorship program was being abused because many people were marrying only to get a permanent resident card and then leave their partners. With this rule, those abusing the system will think twice.’
Although completely eradicating immigration fraud is almost impossible, this step has made Canadian immigration system much more difficult to manipulate and will certainly cut the numbers of people entering the country fraudulently. Because the sponsors are not always part of the fraud but were under the impression that their spouse intended to make a go of the marriage they would be very upset, hence the existence of the victims’ society. For the small number of Canadian citizens who were making money out of fraudulent marriage visas, this measure will close that loophole as they would be unwilling to fulfill the two year requirement.
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